Awesome Obscurities, No.3

The geographical and social strata diversity to be found in the blogosphere, especially here within the wp.com ecosystem, is amazing. What I learn on a daily basis is akin to the best university and postgraduate studies I have been fortunate to partake in.

When we consider the systems societies have created to deal with crisis, trauma, and violence, I often question: does the end justify the means? To that inquiry, I here want to share an amazing blog that has helped me wrestle not only with the reality of incarceration as it is deployed in society, but also the inner reality of incarceration that grips my soul, and, to be a bit blunt, I believe we are all wrestling with it.

The Prison Journalism Project. Follow and learn.

(Postscript: The Prison Journalism Project received a wonderful shout-out from Sarah Golding at WP Tavern not too long ago, but to little avail. It seems the vast audience that the tavern enjoys has little time for this dimension, which is a fact for all of us, whether we dismiss it or not. I am confident, and it is my hope, that those of you that find what is said here at the Café on a daily basis to be worth your time, might actually be the audience that PJP is seeking.)

Awesome Obscurities, No. 2

An East Coast Ode to the Basin

In many ways, discovering a great blog for me is like stumbling upon an amazing used book store. Often the collection of books is an extension of a truly remarkable personality to be discovered in the shop owner.

One blog that fits this description is Austerity 101, by Cathy Tremain. Daily, Cathy takes and shares a picture of the basin she lives by, in a simple, direct manner. The consistency of the practice invites the viewer to become familiar over time with the various features of the landscape as the camera captures views in each direction. Daily, it’s like returning to a favorite spot to look out over the water.

The impact of these posts is they open a silent, meditative window. The poet Charles Olson, who also lived along the water in Gloucester, Massachusetts, was fascinated by the effect of seeing the line where the land meets the sea. He celebrated this in his epic The Maximus Poems, by highlighting the paintings of Fitz Hugh (Henry) Lane, and developing a poetics of the “eye view.”

The relationship of a person or a culture to a specific landscape, as Cathy’s study of the basin creates, also reminds me of the fascinating books by Vincent Scully. In his The Earth, The Temple, and the Gods, Scully explores the impact of the landscape in shaping the ancient Minoan culture in Crete. In his Pueblo: Mountain, Village, Dance, he turns to the American Southwest and, through the same lens, explores the fascinating relationship to be found between the culture of the Pueblo tribes and the landscapes of the high desert.

My own practice living in the Catskills strives to capture and convey the connections I continue to learn about on a daily basis from masters like Charles, Fitz, Vincent, and Cathy.


Postscript: Since we are on the topic of connection to the landscape, a quick shout out to my partner Judith, who has just released a small series of recent paintings: Winter in the Catskills. Take a look, I think you will like them.

Awesome Obscurities, No. 1

Books are my deepest, gravest sin. I just can’t help myself, the manifestation of consciousness on paper effects me, as some indulge in chocolate. Coffee. Or cocaine for that matter.

And since I have hauled these thousands of pounds of paper through fifteen or so relocations the last two decades, it has just dawned on me now, that some of the gems might be of interest to others. Maybe even you.

These offerings are not reviews. Think of them as more like shout outs. Like, check this out! So here we go…

Second shelf, up toward the ceiling on the east wall of my study.

Preface to Plato, by Eric Havelock.

A fascinating exploration of Plato’s attack on poetry, and a wonderful dive into the value of what came before. The poet Charles Olson destroyed his copy with marginalia, the ideas so provocative.